Poems for Children

Poems for Children

A Poem by Michael R. Burch
"

These are poems for children, poems about children, and poems about mothers, fathers and families…

"

These are poems for children, poems about children, and poems about mothers, fathers and families…

Precipice
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

They will teach you to scoff at love
from the highest, windiest precipice of reason.

Do not believe them.

There is no place safe for you to fall
save into the arms of love.

The Desk
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

There is a child I used to know
who sat, perhaps, at this same desk
where you sit now, and made a mess
of things sometimes. 
I wonder how
he learned at all ...

He saw T-Rexes down the hall
and dreamed of trains and cars and wrecks.
He dribbled phantom basketballs,
shot spitwads at his schoolmates’ necks.

He played with pasty Elmer’s glue
(and sometimes got the glue on you!).
He earned the nickname “teacher’s PEST.”

His mother had to come to school
because he broke the golden rule.
He dreaded each and every test.

But something happened in the fall�"
he grew up big and straight and tall,
and now his desk is far too small;
so you can have it.

One thing, though�"

one swirling autumn, one bright snow,
one gooey tube of Elmer’s glue ...
and you’ll outgrow this old desk, too.

Originally published by TALESetc

A True Story
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Jeremy hit the ball today,
over the fence and far away.
So very, very far away
a neighbor had to toss it back.
(She thought it was an air attack!)

Jeremy hit the ball so hard
it flew across our neighbor’s yard.
So very hard across her yard
the bat that boomed a mighty “THWACK!”
now shows an eensy-teensy crack.

Originally published by TALESetc

Picturebook Princess
by Michael R. Burch

for Keira

We had a special visitor.
Our world became suddenly brighter.
She was such a charmer!
Such a delighter!

With her sparkly diamond slippers
and the way her whole being glows,
Keira’s a picturebook princess
from the points of her crown to the tips of her toes!

The Aery Faery Princess
by Michael R. Burch

for Keira

There once was a princess lighter than fluff
made of such gossamer stuff�"
the down of a thistle, butterflies’ wings,
the faintest high note the hummingbird sings,
moonbeams on garlands, strands of bright hair ...
I think she’s just you when you’re floating on air!

Tallen the Mighty Thrower
by Michael R. Burch

Tallen the Mighty Thrower
is a hero to turtles, geese, ducks ...
they splash and they cheer
when he tosses bread near
because, you know, eating grass sucks!

On Looking into Curious George’s Mirrors
by Michael R. Burch

for Maya McManmon, granddaughter of the poet Jim McManmon aka Seamus Cassidy

Maya was made in the image of God;
may the reflections she sees in those curious mirrors
always echo back Love.

Amen

Maya's Beddy-Bye Poem
by Michael R. Burch

for Maya McManmon, granddaughter of the poet Jim McManmon aka Seamus Cassidy

With a hatful of stars
and a stylish umbrella
and her hand in her Papa’s
(that remarkable fella!)
and with Winnie the Pooh
and Eeyore in tow,
may she dance in the rain
cheek-to-cheek, toe-to-toe
till each number’s rehearsed ...
My, that last step’s a leap! �"
the high flight into bed
when it’s past time to sleep!

Note: “Hatful of Stars” is a lovely song and image by Cyndi Lauper.

Mother’s Smile
by Michael R. Burch

for my mother, Christine Ena Burch, and my wife, Elizabeth Harris Burch

There never was a fonder smile
than mother’s smile, no softer touch
than mother’s touch. So sleep awhile
and know she loves you more than “much.”

So more than “much,” much more than “all.”
Though tender words, these do not speak
of love at all, nor how we fall
and mother’s there, nor how we reach
from nightmares in the ticking night
and she is there to hold us tight.

There never was a stronger back
than father’s back, that held our weight
and lifted us, when we were small,
and bore us till we reached the gate,
then held our hands that first bright mile
till we could run, and did, and flew.
But, oh, a mother’s tender smile
will leap and follow after you!

Originally published by TALESetc

Limericks and Nonsense Verse

There once was a leopardess, Dot,
who indignantly answered: "I’ll not!
The gents are impressed
with the way that I’m dressed.
I wouldn’t change even one spot."
�"Michael R. Burch

There once was a dromedary
who befriended a crafty canary.
Budgie said, "You can’t sing,
but now, here’s the thing�"
just think of the tunes you can carry!"
�"Michael R. Burch

Generation Gap
by Michael R. Burch

A quahog clam,
age 405,
said, “Hey, it’s great
to be alive!”

I disagreed,
not feeling nifty,
babe though I am,
just pushing fifty.

Note: A quahog clam found off the coast of Ireland is the longest-lived animal on record.

These are poems I have written for children and about children. Many of these poems were written for my son Jeremy when he was a boy.

The Watch
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

I have come to watch my young son,
his blonde ringlets damp with sleep...
and what I know is that he loves me
beyond all earthly understanding,
that his life is like clay in my unskilled hands.

And I marvel this bright ore does not keep�"
unrestricted in form, more content than shape,
but seeking a form to become, to express
something of itself to this wilderness
of eyes watching and waiting.

What do I know of his wonder, his awe?
To his future I will matter less and less,
but in this moment, as he is my world, I am his,
and I stand, not understanding, but knowing�"
in this vast pageant of stars, he is more than unique.

There will never be another moment like this.
Studiously quiet, I stroke his fine hair
which will darken and coarsen and straighten with time.
He is all I bequeath of myself to this earth.
His fingers curl around mine in his sleep...

I leave him to dreams�"calm, untroubled and deep.

"The Onslaught" was written after a surprising comment from my son, Jeremy.

The Onslaught
by Michael R. Burch

“Daddy, I can’t give you a hug today
because my hair is wet.”

No wet-haired hugs for me today;
no lollipopped lips to kiss and say,
Daddy, I love you! with such regard
after baseball hijinks all over the yard.

The sun hails and climbs
over the heartbreak of puppies and daffodils
and days lost forever to windowsills,
over fortunes and horrors and starry climes;

and it seems to me that a child’s brief years
are springtimes and summers beyond regard
mingled with laughter and passionate tears,
beyond autumns and winters now veiled and barred,
as elusive as snowflakes here, white and bejeweled,
gaily whirling and sweeping across the yard.

Miracle
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

The contrails of galaxies mingle, and the dust of that first day still shines.
Before I conceived you, before your heart beat, you were mine,

and I see

infinity leap in your bright, fluent eyes.
And you are the best of all that I am. You 
became
and what will be left of me is the flesh you comprise,

and I see

whatever must be�"leaves its mark, yet depends
on these indigo skies, on these bright trails of dust,
on a veiled, curtained past, on some dream beyond knowing,
on the mists of a future too uncertain to heed.

And I see

your eyes�"dauntless, glowing�"
glowing with the mystery of all they perceive,
with the glories of galaxies passed, yet bestowing,
though millennia dead, all this pale feathery light.

And I see

all your wonder�"a wonder to me, for, unknowing,
of all this portends, still your gaze never wavers.
And love is unchallenged in all these vast skies,
or by distance, or time. The ghostly moon hovers;

I see; and I see

all that I am reflected in all that you have become to me.

To My Child, Unborn
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

How many were the nights, enchanted
with despair and longing, when dreams recanted
returned with a restless yearning,
and the pale stars, burning,
cried out at me to remember
one night ... long ere the September
night when you were conceived.

Oh, then, if only I might have believed
that the future held such mystery
as you, my child, come unbidden to me
and to your mother,
come to us out of a realm of wonder,
come to us out of a faery clime ...

If only then, in that distant time,
I had somehow known that this day was coming,
I might not have despaired at the raindrops drumming
sad anthems of loneliness against shuttered panes;
I might not have considered my doubts and my pains
so carefully, so cheerlessly, as though they were never-ending.
If only then, with the starlight mending
the shadows that formed
in the bowels of those nights, in the gussets of storms
that threatened till dawn as though never leaving,
I might not have spent those long nights grieving,
lamenting my loneliness, cursing the sun
for its late arrival. Now, a coming dawn
brings you unto us, and you shall be ours,
as welcome as ever the moon or the stars
or the glorious sun when the nighttime is through
and the earth is enchanted by skies turning blue.

Transition
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

With his cocklebur hugs
and his wet, clinging kisses
like a damp, trembling thistle
catching, thwarting my legs�"

he reminds me that life begins with the possibility of rapture.

Was time this deceptive
when my own childhood begged
one last moment of frolic
before bedtime’s firm kisses�"

when sleep was enforced, and the dark window ledge

waited, impatient, to lure
or to capture
the bright edge of morning
within a clear pane?

Was the sun then my ally�"bright dawn’s greedy fledgling?

With his joy he reminds me
of joys long forgotten,
of play’s endless hours
till the haggard sun sagged

and everything changed.

I gather him up and we trudge off to bed.

What does it mean?
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

His little hand, held fast in mine.
What does it mean? What does it mean?

If he were not here, the sun would not shine,
nor the grass grow half as green.

What does it mean?

His arms around my neck, his cheek
snuggling so warm against my own...

What does it mean?

If life's a garden, he's the fairest
flower ever sown,
the sweetest ever seen.

What does it mean?

And when he whispers sweet and low,
"What does it mean?"
It means, my son, I love you so.
Sometimes that's all we need to know.

With a child's wonder
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

With a child's wonder,
pausing to ponder
a puddle of water,

for only a moment,
needing no comment

but bright eyes
and a wordless cry,
he launches himself to fly ...

then my two-year-old lands
on his feet and his hands
and water explodes all around.

(From the impact and sound
you'd have thought that he'd drowned,
but the puddle was two inches deep.)

Later that evening, as he lay fast asleep
in that dreamland where two-year-olds wander,
I watched him awhile and smilingly pondered
with a father's wonder.

Reflex
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Some intuition of her despair
for her lost brood,
as though a lost fragment of song
torn from her flat breast,
touched me there...

I felt, unable to hear
through the bright glass,
the being within her melt
as her unseemly tirade
left a feather or two
adrift on the wind-ruffled air.

Where she will go,
how we all err,
why we all fear
for the lives of our children,
I cannot pretend to know.

But, O!,
how the unappeased glare
of omnivorous sun
over crimson-flecked snow
makes me wish you were here.

Passages on Fatherhood
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

He is my treasure,
and by his happiness I measure
my own worth.

Four years old,
with diamonds and gold
bejeweled in his soul.

His cherubic beauty
is felicity
to simplicity and passion�"

for a baseball thrown
or an ice-cream cone
or eggshell-blue skies.

It's hard to be "wise"
when the years
career through our lives

and bees in their hives
test faith
and belief

while Time, the great thief,
with each falling leaf
foreshadows grief.

The wisdom of the ages
and prophets and mages
and doddering sages

is useless
unless
it encompasses this:

his kiss.

The Long Days Lengthening Into Darkness
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Today, I can be his happiness,
and if he delights
in hugs and smiles,
in baseball and long walks
talking about Rug Rats, Dinosaurs and Pokemon

(noticing how his face lights up
at my least word,
how tender his expression,
gazing up at me in wondering adoration)

. . . O, son,
these are the long days
lengthening into darkness.

Now over the earth
(how solemn and still their processions)
the clouds
gather to extinguish the sun.

And what I can give you is perhaps no more nor less
than this brief ray dazzling our faces,
seeing how soon the night becomes my consideration.

Always
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Know in your heart that I love you as no other,
and that my love is eternal.
I keep the record of your hopes and dreams
in my heart like a journal,
and there are pages for you there that no one else can fill:
none one else, ever.
And there is a tie between us, more than blood,
that no one else can sever.

And if we’re ever parted,
please don’t be broken-hearted;
until we meet again on the far side of forever
and walk among those storied shining ways,
should we, for any reason, be apart,
still, I am with you ... always.

The Gift
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth and Jeremy

For you and our child, unborn, though named
(for we live in a strange, fantastic age,
and tomorrow, when our son's a man,
perhaps this earth will be a cage

from which men fly like flocks of birds,
the distant stars their helpless prey),
for you, my love, and you, my child,
what can I give you, each, this day?

First, take my heart, it’s mine alone;
no ties upon it, mine to give,
more precious than a lifetime’s objects,
and, once possessed, more free to live.

Then take these poems, of little worth,
but to tell you: that which you receive
holds precious its two dear possessors,
and makes each lien a sweet reprieve.

Success
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

We need our children to keep us humble
between toast and marmalade;

there is no time for a ticker-tape parade
before bed, no award, no bright statuette

to be delivered for mending skinned knees,
no wild bursts of approval for shoveling snow.

A kiss is the only approval they show;
to leave us�"the first great success they achieve.

Boundless
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Every day we whittle away at the essential solidity of him,
and every day a new sharp feature emerges:
a feature we'll spend creative years: planing, smoothing, refining,

trying to find some new Archaic Torso of Apollo, or Thinker...

And if each new day a little of the boisterous air of youth is deflated
in him, if the hours of small pleasures spent chasing daffodils
in the outfield as the singles become doubles, become triples,
become unconscionable errors, become victories lost,

become lives wasted beyond all possible hope of repair...

if what he was becomes increasingly vague�"like a white balloon careening
into clouds; like a child striding away aggressively toward manhood,
hitching an impressive rucksack over sagging, sloping shoulders,
shifting its vaudevillian burden back and forth,

then pausing to look back at us with an almost comical longing...

if what he wants is only to be held a little longer against a forgiving bosom;
to chase after daffodils in the outfield regardless of scores;
to sail away like a balloon
on a firm string, always sure to return when the line tautens,

till he looks down upon us from some removed height we cannot quite see,

bursting into tears over us:
what, then, of our aspirations for him, if he cannot breathe,
cannot rise enough to contemplate the earth with his own vision,
unencumbered, but never untethered, forsaken...

cannot grow brightly, steadily, into himself�"flying beyond us?

Lullaby
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Cherubic laugh; sly, impish grin;
Angelic face; wild chimp within.

It does not matter; sleep awhile
As soft mirth tickles forth a smile.

Gray moths will hum a lullaby
Of feathery wings, then you and I

Will wake together, by and by.

Life's not long; those days are best
Spent snuggled to a loving breast.

The earth will wait; a sun-filled sky
Will bronze lean muscle, by and by.

Soon you will sing, and I will sigh,
But sleep here, now, for you and I

Know nothing but this lullaby.

Oh, let me sing you a lullaby
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy (written from his mother’s perspective)

Oh, let me sing you a lullaby
of a love that shall come to you by and by.

Oh, let me sing you a lullaby
of a love that shall come to you by and by.

Oh, my dear son, how you’re growing up!
You’re taller than me, now I’m looking up!
You’re a long tall drink and I’m half a cup!
And so let me sing you this lullaby.

Oh, my sweet son, as I watch you grow,
there are so many things that I want you to know.
Most importantly this: that I love you so.
And so let me sing you this lullaby.

Soon a tender bud will thrust forth and grow
after the winter’s long virgin snow;
and because there are things that you have to know ...
Oh, let me sing you this lullaby.

Soon, in a green garden a new rose will bloom
and fill all the world with its wild perfume.
And though it’s hard for me, I must give it room.
And so let me sing you this lullaby.

Sappho's Lullaby
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Hushed yet melodic, the hills and the valleys
sleep unaware of the nightingale's call,
while the pale calla lilies lie
listening,
glistening . . .
this is their night, the first night of fall.

Son, tonight, a woman awaits you;
she is more vibrant, more lovely than spring.
She'll meet you in moonlight,
soft and warm,
all alone . . .
then you'll know why the nightingale sings.

Just yesterday the stars were afire;
then how desire flashed through my veins!
But now I am older;
night has come,
I’m alone . . .
for you I will sing as the nightingale sings.

NOTE: The calla lily symbolizes beauty, purity, innocence, faithfulness and true devotion. According to Greek mythology, when the Milky Way was formed by the goddess Hera’s breast milk, the drops that fell to earth became calla lilies.

Love’s Extreme Unction
by Michael R. Burch

Lines composed during Jeremy’s first Nashville Christian football game (he played tuba), while I watched my wife Beth watch him.

Within the intimate chapels of her eyes�"
devotions, meditations, reverence.
I find in them Love’s very residence
and hearing the ardent rapture of her sighs
I prophesy beatitudes to come,
when Love like hers commands us, “All be One!”

Renown
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Words fail us when, at last,
we lie unread amid night’s parchment leaves,
life’s chapter past.

Whatever I have gained of life, I lost,
except for this bright emblem
of your smile…

and I would grasp
its meaning closer for a longer while…
but I am glad

with all my heart to be unheard,
and smile,
bound here, still strangely mortal,

instructed by wise Love not to be sad,
when to be the lesser poet
meant to be “the world’s best dad.”

The Tapestry of Leaves
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Leaves unfold
as life is sold,
or bartered, for a moment in the sun.

The interchange
of lives is strange:
what reason�"life�"when death leaves all undone?

O, earthly son,
when rest is won
and wrested from this ground, then through my clay’s

soft mortal soot
thrust forth your root
until your leaves embrace the sun's bright rays.

Chip Off the Block
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

In the fusion of poetry and drama,
Shakespeare rules! Jeremy’s a ham: a
chip off the block, like his father and mother.
Part poet? Part ham? Better run for cover!
Now he’s Benedick �" most comical of lovers!

NOTE: Jeremy’s father is a poet and his mother is an actress; hence the fusion, or confusion, as the case may be.

Tall Tails
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy

Irony
is the base perception
alchemized by deeper reflection,
the paradox
of the wagging tails of dog-ma
torched by sly Reynard the Fox.

But irony lies
beyond the surmise
and surprise
of the blind and unwise.

These are lines written as my son Jeremy was about to star as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at his ultra-conservative high school, Nashville Christian. Benedick is rather obvious wordplay but it apparently flew over the heads of the Puritan headmasters. Samson lit the tails of foxes and set them loose amid the Philistines. Reynard the Fox was a medieval trickster who bedeviled the less wily.

First Steps
by Michael R. Burch

for my goddaughter, Caitlin Shea Murphy

To her a year is like infinity,
each day�"an adventure never-ending.
She has no concept of time,
but already has begun the climb�"
from childhood to womanhood recklessly ascending.

I would caution her, "No! Wait!
There will be time enough another day ...
time to learn the Truth
and to slowly shed your youth,
but for now, sweet child, go carefully on your way! ..."

But her time is not a time for cautious words,
nor a time for measured, careful understanding.
She is just certain
that, by grabbing the curtain,
in a moment she will finally be standing!

Little does she know that her first few steps
will hurtle her on her way
through childhood to adolescence,
and then, finally, pubescence …
while, just as swiftly, I’ll be going gray!

Picturebook Princess
by Michael R. Burch

for Keira

We had a special visitor.
Our world became suddenly brighter.
She was such a charmer!
Such a delighter!

With her sparkly diamond slippers
and the way her whole being glows,
Keira's a picturebook princess
from the points of her crown to the tips of her toes!

The Aery Faery Princess
by Michael R. Burch

for Keira

There once was a princess lighter than fluff
made of such gossamer stuff�"
the down of a thistle, butterflies' wings,
the faintest high note the hummingbird sings,
moonbeams on garlands, strands of bright hair...
I think she's just you when you're floating on air!

Tallen the Mighty Thrower
by Michael R. Burch

Tallen the Mighty Thrower
is a hero to turtles, geese, ducks...
they splash and they cheer
when he tosses bread near
because, you know, eating grass sucks!

#CHILD #CHILDREN #JEREMY #MRBCHILD #MRBCHILDREN #MRBJEREMY #POEMS #POETRY #MRB-POEMS #MRB-POETRY #MRBPOEMS #MRBPOETRY #MRBFATHER #MRBFATHERS #MRBSON #MRBFAMILY

© 2024 Michael R. Burch


Author's Note

Michael R. Burch
These are poems for children, poems about children, and poems about mothers, fathers and families…


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Added on May 13, 2024
Last Updated on May 13, 2024
Tags: poems for children, poems for kids, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, families